Turkish media is reporting that Yusuf Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, was hosted earlier this month by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. According to a report by the Hurriyet Daily News, Islam was on a visit to Turkey in order to raise funds for a new mosque to be built within the grounds of Cambridge University:
August 2, 2013 On the sidelines of his busy political schedule, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an hosted in Ankara British legend Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens who converted to Islam in the late 1970s. The globally known musician was on a visit to the Turkish capital to request financial support for a new mosque to be built within the grounds of Cambridge University. After attending Friday prayers together at the prayer room of the Prime Minister’s Office, both Erdo?an and Yusuf Islam engaged in an intimate conversation in front of reporters. ‘How many kids do you have, Yusuf,’ Erdo?an asked the author of the hit ‘Father and son,’ which relates a conversation in which father gives advice to his young son. ‘I know your advice,’ Yusuf Islam replied, referring to Erdo?an’s publicly known plea for parents to bring at least three offspring into the world. ‘I have six, so I have doubled it,’ he added. During the meeting that lasted around one hour, Yusuf Islam obtained Erdo?an’s promise to give financial support to the mosque project. The musician also visited the Turkish Parliament during his time in the capital city, where he was accompanied by a series of foreign guests who are also on the committee of the mosque project. The Cambridge team also had a meeting with President Abdullah Gül and Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek.
‘We don’t [leave Ankara]with money but with huge support,’ Yusuf Islam told reporters after the conclusion of his meetings. The famous singer-songwriter converted to Islam in the late 1970s, taking on the name of Yusuf Islam and leaving behind his musical career to pursue educational and humanitarian goals. He returned to music in the late 1990s, although he is remembered above all for the hits he composed during his ‘hippy era’ such as ‘Father and son,’ ‘Wild World,’ ‘My lady d’Arbanville’ and ‘Peace train.’
He has also been awarded by a variety of organizations for his global peace efforts.
Yusuf Islam, who changed his name and converted to Islam in 1978, last attracted substantial attention when he was was denied entry to the United States on national security grounds in September 2004. After protests from the foreign office of Great Britain where Mr. Islam is a citizen, he later returned to the United States to promote his first mainstream pop album in 28 years. Although Islam is said to have spoken frequently against terrorism, he is closely associated with a number of organizations tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood and/or support for Hamas:
- Islam is known to have been a Trustee of the Union of Good, a worldwide coalition of charities headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi and which helps to fund raise for Hamas. Islam is also a founder of Muslim Aid, a UK charity which is one of the member organizations of the Union of Good and which itself tied to the UK Muslim Brotherhood
- Islam is chairman and a founder the International Board of Educational Research and Resources (IBERR), an international Islamic educational organization whose trustees are largely tied to the Global Muslim Brotherhood.
- Ibrahim Brian Hewitt, a former secretary to Mr. slam, has been associated with both IBERR and Interpal, a British charity that is one of the most important organizations in the Union of Good.
In January 2009, Mr. Islam released a charity song from which all proceeds were to be donated to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Save the Children in order to aid children and families in the Gaza Strip.
In a January 2007 interview with the New York Times, Islam pointedly refused to condem Hamas, implying that the group “did charity and good to humankind.”
For an analysis of ties between Turkey and the Global Muslim Brotherhood, go here. (disclosure: report written by the GMBDW editor)